Abu 'Amr al-Harith ibn Miskin

(d. 250) of Egypt

ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf, the client of Muhammad ibn Zayyan ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Marwan.

He listened to Ibn al-Qasim, Ashhab, Ibn Wahb and others and wrote down their oral transmissions and arranged them and studied fiqh with them. He is counted as one of their great companions. He compiled a book in which he agreed with the opinion of the three of them.

He saw al-Layth, Malik and al-Mufaddal ibn Faddala.

He also related from Sufyan ibn 'Uyayna, Sa'id ibn al-Jahm, and Yusuf ibn 'Umar. He transmitted hadith in Baghdad and Egypt.

Those who related from him include Ibn Zayyan al-Hadrami, Abu Dawud, his son, Ya'qub ibn Shayba, Abu Hatim ar-Razi, Yahya and Muhammad, the two sons of 'Umar, Muhammad ibn Ramadan, an-Nasa'i, Ibn Waddah, 'Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Qasim ibn al-Mughira al-Jawhari and Hamdan ibn 'Ali.

Ahmad ibn Hanbal was questioned about al-Harith ibn Miskin before he was asked to be qadi. He praised him, saying, "Only good has reached us about him." He said, "They used to be careless about taking from Ibn Wahb and the Egyptians were very careless indeed."

Yahya ibn Ma'in said, "There is no harm in him." Ibn Waddah said that he is the reliable.

Al-Kindi said that he was a mufti and faqih.

Yahya ibn Nasr said, "I knew al-Harith in the days of Ibn Wahb and before his death. He followed the path of asceticism, scrupulousness and truthfulness until he died."

Abu Bakr al-Khatib said, "He was a faqih in the school of Malik, and reliable and firm in hadith."

Al-Khatib related that 'Ali ibn Husayn ibn Hayyan said, "In the book of my father I found that he had written, 'Abu Zakariyya said that al-Harith ibn Miskin is better than Asbagh and more excellent than 'Abdullah ibn Salih.'"

An-Nasa'i said, "Al-Harith ibn Miskin is reliable and trustworthy."

Al-Harith ibn Miskin has an excellent book in which he wrote down the oral transmission of Ibn al-Qasim and Ibn Wahb.

Abu Hatim said that he is truthful.

'Abdullah ibn Muhammad the Qadi said, "Al-Harith was one of the true scholars of this generation in Egypt. He was good, excellent, reliable in his transmission, just in his judgement, and praised in his behaviour."

Al-Kindi said, "The companions of al-Asamm indicated that al-Harith should be put through the inquisition about the creation of the Qur'an when al-Harith arrived from Iraq. He said to them, 'The Sultan did not question him there, shall I then question him?' They were silent about it."

This is because Ibn Abi Du'ad had advised that since al-Harith had attended a funeral of his and he was grateful to him for that.


Amir Abu Nasr said, "He was taken to Baghdad for trial and imprisoned there until al-Mutawakkil assumed power and released him."

Al-Khatib said the like of that and claimed that the one who brought him was al-Ma'mun.

Sa'dun ibn Yazid said on it:

                 If you had seen him and Abu Zayd together,
                    they are a support and fortress for the deen,
                 Studying knowledge in their mosque when they spend the night awake
                   in the deep darkness.
                 When a difficult problem arises,
                    the people rely on them in what comes.
                 Allah illuminated His mosque by them, and by them,
                    the mosque is a light which is kindled.

His being appointed qadi and his behaviour in that

Al-Jizi said in The Book of the Qadis of Egypt, "Al-Harith ibn Miskin was appointed qadi of Egypt in 237 in Jumada al-Ula."

Abu Bakr al-Kindi said in the Book of the Tabaqat of the Qadis of Egypt and in The Book of the Clients, "Al-Harith ibn Miskin was appointed qadi of Egypt before al-Mutawakkil. The letter appointing him qadi reached him while he was in Alexandria. When he read it, he refused the appointment, but his companions compelled him to that and they promised that they would help him."

He came to Fustat and sat for judgement. He sat on his feet. He was carried to the mosque in a litter and rode a white-faced donkey. He was asked to wear the black (colour of the Abbasids) and he refused. His companions made him fear the flogging of the Sultan and being suspected of supporting the Umayyads, and so he wore a garment of black wool.

One of them said, "One of those in Egypt thought that it was as if Ibn Aktam sacrificed al-Harith ibn Miskin. That was when the qadis of Egypt came to him when Ibn Aktam was the Head Qadi at that time.


Abu Muhammad ad-Darrab said in his book, "Al-Harith related from Ibn Wahb from Malik about a man who is called to an office and dislikes to accept it and yet fears for his blood or that his back will be flogged and his house destroyed and what he thought of that.

"He replied, 'As for the destruction of his house and the flogging of his back and imprisonment, if he can endure this and leave the office, it is better for him. If his blood is permitted, I do not know what the limit of that is. Perhaps he will have capacity for that if he acts.'"

Yunus said, "Al-Harith related this report and then he was appointed. By Allah, he asked me, 'Do you think that I am worthy for fatwa as Malik said?'"

Qadi Yunus related, "Ja'far al-Mutawakkil appointed al-Harith qadi of Egypt after he had imprisoned him for a time because he had refused that."

Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Warith said, "We were with al-Harith when 'Ali ibn al-Qasim al-Kufi al-Madani came to him. He said to him, 'I dreamt that the people were gathered in the Masjid al-Haram and I inquired, 'Why are you gathered?' They answered, ''Umar ibn al-Khattab has come to make al-Harith ibn Miskin fit for the qadiship.' I saw him take it and pass the night in his seat in the garden. He left and I followed him. When he sensed my presence, he said, 'What do you want?' I replied, 'To look at you.'

"He said, 'Go to al-Harith and give him my greetings and tell him, 'You will judge between the people by the token that you were in prison in Iraq and you got up in the night and stumbled and injured your finger. You made that supplication and you were saved the next day.'"

Al-Harith said to him, "You have spoken the truth. This is something that none but Allah Almighty knows."

He said, "I asked him about the supplication and he said, 'My Companion in every hardship, my Succour in every distress, my Intimate in every alienation! Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and give me release and a way out of my business.'"


He said, "He was summoned to wear the black and refused to do that. The governor sent to al-Mutawakkil and his letter came, 'If he does not wear the black, then dislocate his hips.' The governor sent his messenger after him and both far and near deserted him.

At-Tahawi said that Muhammad ibn Sa'id said, "I met him when the messengers were alarming him and he was in confusion. I knew that he intended an aspect of the truth in which he would oppose the passion of the Sultan. I went near to him and I said to him secretly, 'Shaykh, do not let what you see terrify you. The people of the earth deserted Ibrahim and it did not harm him since Allah was for him.' He embraced me and said, 'You have given me life, by Allah, my brother, with these words. May Allah make you live in happiness."

When he was brought to the governor, he commanded that the letter of al-Mutawakkil be read out to him. He refused to wear the black. A man at the side of the mosque said, '" think that the shaykh wears this 'Arji garment which is made in the Yemen?" Al-Harith said, "Yes, sometimes I wear it." The governor said to him, "Then wear that." He said, "As for that, yes." He was satisfied with him doing that and wrote to al-Mutawakkil and left the shaykh alone.


Al-Kindi said, "Al-Harith commanded that the people of ash-Shafi'i and Abu Hanifa be expelled. He banned the people of Abu Hanifa from the mosque and scattered their assemblies. He commanded that their area between the pillars be removed and he forbade most of the mu'adhdhins from giving the adhan. He forbade the Quraysh and Ansar the food of Ramadan and he filled the mosques and built irrigation systems. He excavated the Alexandria canal. He forbade using snares and then allowed that. He forbade the call over funerals and he beat the Qur'an reciters who recited with melodies. He was the first of those who appointed a trustee to look after the copies of the Qur'an in the mosque. He left off meeting the governors and greeting them. He used the li'an process and executed Christian sorcerers. He executed a Christian who had cursed the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, after he had flogged him for the hadd-punishment. He exiled and imposed the hadd on the one who had cursed 'A'isha. There were no flaws in his appointment. He demolished a mosque which a Khurasani man had built between the graves in the area of al-Muqattam in the desert, and in which they gathered for recitation, stories, and discussion."

Yahya ibn 'Umar gave a fatwa like this for every mosque which was built far from the village so that the people of the village did not pray in it and those who came to it regularly prayed in it.

He gave a fatwa like that on the mosque of as-Sibt in Qayrawan.

Abu 'Imran gave a similar fatwa on a mosque which was built on the mountain of Fes.


His companions made him look into the business of Abu Bakr al-Asamm, the qadi before him. They used to curse him when he was dismissed and they threw his mat out and washed his place in the mosque. Al-Harith used to make al-Asamm stand every day and beat him with 20 lashes to extract from him the property which he owed. He imposed that on him for some days.

One of them said to al-Harith, "It is ugly for the qadi to take charge of the like of it. Leave him."

A skin was presented to him on which was written, "The measure of a Harrani and imperfect balances." When he read it, he replaced his scribes and aides with others.

Al-Harith's scribe was Abu Ishaq al-Qistal. 'Umar and Yazid, the sons of Yusuf ibn 'Umar, were in charge of his questions.


Abu 'Umar al-Kindi said, "Al-Harith gave judgement regarding waqfs following the school of Malik by excluding the children of the daughters from it. His companions complained about that to al-Mutawakkil and the people of Iraq judged according to their school and said that al-Harith had erred and declared the case void. Therefore al-Harith asked to resign and was retired."

In his letter of resignation, he said, "It has the reached the Amir al-Mu'minin that a letter has arrived asking for your resignation in what you assumed of judgement in Egypt. May Allah support you, he has commanded that your request be granted and you are retired from what you assumed thereby granting you what you asked for and to grant what you agree with in your opinion, may Allah make you endure!" This was in recognition of that and acting on his waqfs.

That was in 245. His qadiship lasted 7 years and 11 months.

Bakkar ibn Qutayba was appointed after him and he did not remove any of the people of al-Harith. He said, "In his excellence and deen, al-Harith knows the people of his land better than me except when an injury is made clear to me."

Abu 'Umar as-Sadafi mentioned that a man came to al-Harith on foot with a Christian woman who had a young son with her. He wanted to buy her from a Christian man. He mentioned that to al-Harith and al-Harith said to him, "What do I have to do with it?" The man repeated the information to him while al-Harith was saying, "What do I have to do with it?" until it was too much for him.

Yazid ibn Yusuf said, "May Allah make the Qadi thrive. He is a righteous man." Al-Harith said, "If he is righteous and stupid, what do I have to do then?"

One of them said, "I attended a funeral and Yunus ibn 'Abd al-A'la began to speak in the words of the people of asceticism until one of those present began to weep."

Al-Harith said, "Yunus! Yunus! Do you consider all of this good while do you what you do?" Yunus said to him, "You are a qadi, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said. 'Whoever has been made a qadi has been sacrificed without a knife.'"

He mentioned that a man came to al-Harith in a dispute. A man called him by his name which was Israfil. Al-Harith said to him, "What moved you to be called by this name when he, peace and blessings be upon him, said, 'Do not name yourselves with the names of the angels'?" He said to him, "Then why was Malik ibn Anas called Malik when Allah Almighty says, 'They call, "O Malik!"'?" Then he said to him, "By Allah, you call people by the names of shaytans and that is not censured," i.e. al-Harith, his name. It is said that it is the name of Iblis, may Allah curse him.

His trial and the rest of his reports

Al-Kindi said, "When al-Ma'mun came to Egypt, people met him to present (their cases) against the government agents of Egypt. There was a complaint about Ibn Tamim and Ibn Asbat. Al-Fadl ibn ar-Rabi' sat in the mosque and his assembly was attended by Qadi Ibn Aktam, Qadi Ibn Abi Du'ad, Ishaq ibn Isma'il ibn Hammad (who was in charge of the court of complaints in Egypt) and a group of the fuqaha' of Egypt and their men of hadith. Al-Harith was summoned to be appointed the qadi of Egypt. Al-Fadl summoned him and asked him about Ibn Tamim and Ibn Asbat. He said, 'Two unjust tyrants.' He said, 'This is not what we summoned you present for.' The mosque became agitated and al-Fadl got up and went to al-Ma'mun and said to him, 'I fear for myself that the people will arise with al-Harith.'

"Al-Ma'mun sent to al-Harith and asked him about them. He said, 'Two unjust tyrants.' He asked, 'Have they wronged you at all?' He replied, 'No.' He said, 'Did you deal with them?' He said, 'No.' He said, 'Then how can you testify against them?' He said, 'As I testified that you are the Amir al-Mu'minin although I had not seen you before this hour, and as I testified that you have gone on expeditions when I was not present in your expeditions.'

"He said, 'Leave this country. It is not a country for you. Sell everything of yours, great and small. You will never be appointed in it.' He imprisoned him in a tent at Ra's al-Jabal.

"Then he went to fight one of the cities of Egypt and brought him with him. When he conquered it, he asked al-Harith about his first questions, and he gave him the same reply. He said to him, 'What do you say about this sortie of ours?' He replied, ''Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Qasim reported to me from Malik that ar-Rashid wrote to him to ask him about fighting the people of Dihlak (?) and that he replied, "If they have deviated due to injustice from the Sultan, then it is not lawful to fight them. If they were the ones to break their allegiance, then it is lawful to fight them.'"

Al-Ma'mun gave him an ugly answer in which he cursed both him and Malik. He said to him, "Leave Egypt." He said, "Amir al-Mu'minin, for the frontiers?" He said, "Keep to the city of Peace (i.e. Baghdad)."

Abu Salih al-Harrani said, "Amir al-Mu'minin, forgive his error!" He said, "Shaykh! Do you intercede? Get up!"

He said, "When he was present, al-Ma'mun said to him, 'Slanderer, refute it against him.' He said to him, 'I am not a slanderer. If the Amir al-Mu'minin gives me permission to speak, I will speak.' He said, 'Speak.' He said, 'By Allah, Amir al-Mu'minin, I am not a slanderer, but I was summoned and I heard and obeyed when I was called. When I was asked about a matter, I asked to resign and I was not retired for three days. When I saw that I must speak, I preferred the truth to anything else.' Al-Ma'mun said, 'This man wants a banner to be raised for him in his land. Take him to you.'"

Then he was taken to Iraq and his wife went out to him and his son Ibrahim was taken to the frontiers. Al-Harith remained in Iraq for sixteen years until al-Ma'mun and al-Mu'tasim died. Al-Wathiq mentioned him to Ibn Abi Du'ad. He said to him, "He is present." He said, "I did not think that he was alive!"

He sent to al-Harith who was in Baghdad and said to him, "Ask for what you need." He said, "My need is that you do not compel me to conceal an opinion."

Ibn Abi Du'ad said to al-Wathiq, "He is a weak old man. I fear that I will impose it on him and he will die." He said, "Write to him to go wherever he likes "

He went to Egypt in 232, and when al-Mutawakkil came to power, he appointed him qadi there.

Muhammad ibn 'Abdu'l-Hakam said, "Ibn Abi Du'ad said to me, 'Your Harith stands in the places of the Prophets."

Ibn Abi Du'ad thought well of him and greatly respected him. He wrote to al-Asamm to recommend him.

Al-Harith died in 250. It is said that it was 248. The first is correct. He was 95 years old. The governor of Egypt led the funeral prayer over him.

He was born in 154. It is also said that it was in 156.

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